Two extremely rich and famous US casino tycoons are concentrated on two cities – Tokyo and Osaka – as the possible home of the first casino resort in Japan.
Japan is still an unexplored gambling diamond in the region, but with the expected changes in the Japanese gambling laws, broker CLSA projected that it can become the third most profitable gaming destination right after Macau and the USA, according to Reuters.
So far the expectations are that the first casino resort in Japan will be ready by 2020, right in time for the Olympic Games, which will take place in Tokyo.
Two cities – two businessmen
The first businessmen who are spotting countless opportunities in the Asian country are Neil Bluhm, who is aiming at Osaka, and his competitor Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas magnate, who is aspiring resort in Tokyo.
The reasons why Bluhm, whose net worth is estimated at $2.6 billion, as per Forbes, prefers Osaka, is first the fact that it is sister city to Chicago, where he owns casinos, and second is the reasonable local government that is expected to support the grand project.
For Adelson on the other hand, Tokyo is the right place for the first casino resort, as the population there is around 13.2 million, therefore the demand will be higher, and of course tourists should be taken into consideration.
Adelson’s fortune according to Forbes is around $39 billion, and he announced that he is willing to invest $10 billion in Japan’s resort, which he claimed is the highest possible offer anyone can place.
Expected investment and profit
It is questionable how much would be the investment return on a potential huge casino complex in Japan, especially if a resort that costs more than $5 billion, according to Morgan Stanley.
George Tanasijevich, managing director for global development of Las Vegas Sands, commented for Reuters: “We are very confident in our ability to generate a return that would be satisfactory to our shareholders.”
Bluhm on the other hand, also commented for the media: “Sometimes people like to throw big numbers around in order to get picked. We have been more for Osaka in the $4-$5 billion range.”
He also added that that this project might have an advantage before the major operators in Macau: “In reality, they are going to want to totally run the project. They are probably not used to having partnership relationships like we are.”
Masayuki Inoue, director general of Osaka’s economic strategy bureau, clarified that they city’s local government is approving foreign operators to form consortiums or joint ventures with Japanese firms.
US casino tycoons are focusing on two Japanese cities for potential home of the first casino resort in the country
• The cities in question are Tokyo and Osaka
• The potential resort will cost at least $5 billion
• The first resort is expected to be ready by 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic games
Moreover, Inoue explained that the city wants casino resort with all the extras that comes with it: “Osaka city is flexible. We’re ready to discuss anything.”
Additionally, there was a poll conducted among Osaka’s citizens and 56% of them showed their support for a potential casino resort in the city, which is known for the fact that it is more open than Tokyo.
Ichiro Matsui, Osaka’s governor, commented for Reuters that casino operators are expected to invest close to $5 billion for an integrated resort, and also help with some of the infrastructure expenditures.
Tokyo’s current position
When it comes to Tokyo, the situation is different, because all the current focus is on the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Even the city’s Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, hasn’t yet confirmed if the city will enter the casino license race.
Yukimasa Saito, commented for the media in the gambling news section: “We’re not like Osaka and Yokohama. We haven’t stepped on the accelerator and said let’s go.”
Currently, there are preferred locations and availability for developers to buy the required land for a future casino resort, but there is also a concern that a huge 2.7-hectare plot in the Odaiba area, will be available for a 10-year lease, which means that some of the desired land might not be obtainable.
As far as tourism is concerned, Osaka officials already declared that an integrated casino resort will draw more tourists, so that the attention won’t be only at Tokyo.
So far various operators like Genting Singapore, Melco Crown Entertainment and MGM Resorts International are deciding between Tokyo and Osaka, however Bluhm seems to be at least one step ahead, as he declared that he is already negotiating with Japanese companies in Osaka for potential partnership.